As a business organization, we have to demand more action on behalf of our restaurants and bars. Greater Winston Salem, Inc. has supported The RESTAURANT Act 2020 (Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed To Survive) since its first iteration in Congress. Without additional assistance, many restaurants and bars will close permanently, and this will cause thousands of jobs to disappear. The restaurant industry has been decimated by COVID-19, and Greater Winston Salem, Inc. has advocated for relief packages for our food and drink establishments since early in the pandemic. We have worked to fund grants, initiated Buy Local or Bye Local campaigns, and gift card outreach programs.
However, we need Federal help to keep our businesses alive. The food and beverage industry accounts for 1/4 jobs lost during the pandemic. This figure is higher than any other sector of the economy. Without additional assistance, our local culinary scene may not exist by the beginning of 2021.
For this reason, we have supported The RESTAURANTS Act 2020 by:
- Signing national letters in support of the bill earlier this summer
- Participating in outreach to Federal leadership in support of the legislation
- Speaking on national and statewide panels in support of the relief plan
The RESTAURANTS Act, if passed in the Senate, would provide $120 billion in relief through a grant program administered by the Treasury Department. The House has already passed the bill. Under the Act, restaurants, bars, cafés, and caterers would be eligible to receive Restaurant Stabilization Grants that will cover the difference between their 2019 actual revenues and their projected revenues for 2020. PPP and EIDL recipients will have to subtract forgiven loans from the maximum amount for the grants. Business owners won’t have to pay back these grants unless they close their businesses before the end of 2020, in which case they’ll have to return unspent funds. If the grant exceeds revenues at the end of the year, it’ll be converted to a loan with 1% interest and a 10-year term.
These funds can be used to cover almost any financial responsibility a business owner may have. This includes payroll (except for employees who make more than $100,000 a year), benefits, mortgage, maintenance, rent, supplies (including PPE and relevant cleaning materials), utilities, food, debt, obligations to suppliers, and any other expenses deemed essential by The Treasury. Recipients also need to certify that the grant requests are necessary, and that the funds will be used for their intended purposes.
Our businesses need this relief. We are calling on Senate Majority Leader McConnell and our Senators from North Carolina to pass this bill and stand up for our food and drink community. Food and drink bring people together. Restaurants have exhausted every outlet imaginable to remain open. They have converted their dining rooms into makeshift grocery stores, ramped-up outdoor service, made their menus friendly for takeaway patrons, and used carryout as their lifelines. Let’s carry the mantle for them and get job saving legislation to the White House for a signature. We don’t have time to waste.